There was a time in my early adulthood when I prided myself on my ability to resist all the salespeople and marketers and advertisers of the world. I’d picture them around a gleaming conference table, all smug in their three-piece suits, plotting sinister ways to trick me into buying crap I don’t need.
Every time I resisted the urge to pleasure-shop, I imagined myself defeating The Man, thwarting his attempts to separate me from my hard-earned dollars. Back then, I wore whatever hand-me-down clothing and shoes I happened to have been given or obtained on the cheap. True, I didn’t like most of my clothes or feel good in them, but it was the ’90s and, in retrospect, all clothing was pretty much a high-waisted, over-alled, vested, pleated, floral mess back then.
Then the internet hit its stride, and online shopping came into its own. Big data bloomed. Now, we have smart ads that follow you wherever you roam in the whole world wide web, haunting your subconscious with images of specific items you looked at but that you’d otherwise long since have forgotten, sending you urgent notifications of things about to sell out, targeting you with discount codes at your weakest moments. And the stuff they’re trying to sell you has gotten so much better. Now they make critter-bedecked fabrics, and shoes with panda faces on them, and leggings softer than the inside of a freshly-baked biscuit, and curtain rod finials shaped like rabbit heads, and I mean, come ON. I don’t have superpowers.
I am one mere human trying to stand against this vastly-emboldened onslaught, this massive army of evil genius designers and marketers, and I have failed and completely fallen under their swords. This holiday season in particular, between online shopping for Christmas gifts and then, accidentally, shopping for gifts for myself that were just too cute and too good of a deal to pass up, this place right now looks like:
and the UPS and Post Office delivery people have me on a hate list (but also can probably pick out my condo in this sea of look-alike condos in their sleep).
I’ve just about retail-therapied myself out of house and home, but I feel like I’m turning a corner at this point, and things are going to get better. The holiday shopping is done. I’m not going to need any new clothes or shoes for at least a decade. I’ve invested all my extra earnings in fox-print dresses and woodland-creature-festooned leggings and bunny-print duvet covers. I have no more clothes hangers, closet room, or drawer space. I’m unsubscribing from emails like mad, trying to make it through this relatively calm eye-of-the-storm before the next phase in their attack is unleashed in all its violent fury: the after-Christmas sales.
I’m on holiday from work for another week, and I hope to spend my precious time off creating, not consuming; reading and reflecting and writing, not scrolling obsessively through Sale sections; pursuing peace and contentment, not purchasing things. I hope instead of chasing after what I don’t have, I recognize that I already have everything I need, that my life and my loved ones and my good health are better gifts than anything I could find in any store.
And if all that fails and my resolve weakens, I’ll see y’all at Target and TJ Maxx next week.